Milwaukee is More Than Beer

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So this is a BFTP Monday post (Blast from the Past).  I just made that up.  I actually started writing this post almost a year ago….because it’s been that long since I’ve written on this blog and I’m now actually hitting the “publish” button.  What made me think of it?  Well, we bought plane tickets a few weeks ago for our upcoming annual family reunion the end of June and I’m flying into Milwaukee once again.

What is the first thing you think of when someone says “Milwaukee”?  Beer of course. After all, Milwaukee has spent many years as being touted as the “Beer Capital of the World”.  It’s home to Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller beer to name a few.img_7811It’s what my father used to call “the working man’s beer”.  Not like all the local craft breweries today that have popped up everywhere…even in Milwaukee.  This was David’s choice for dinner our first evening in Milwaukee.IMG_7806But Milwaukee has more to offer than beer as I found out when my husband and I decided to extend the time we were in Wisconsin for an annual family reunion and take a few days to explore Milwaukee.

The weather had been cooler than we expected our first few days in Wisconsin..it was in the mid to high 60’s….in June!, so when we saw the weather was going to be sunny and 75 degrees, we decided to take advantage and check out Milwaukee’s Riverwalk.  We were staying about a mile from downtown, so we just started walking toward the river.  This was our first view of the Riverwalk. IMG_7817I love the little flags that lined the walk depicting the fun things that you can find along or on the river…watching fireworks, rowing, listening to music, sailing, etc.     You can follow the flags along the route

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or if you don’t want to look up, just look down and follow the fun markings in the sidewalk.

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The city of Milwaukee has installed sculptures all along the river too, a project they call RiverSculpture!.  There are lots of interesting pieces along the way.


We also passed by the local History Society and decided to take a quick look inside.


Our quick look lasted about 2 hours.  Every summer there is a huge music festival (supposed to be the world’s largest) called Summerfest that is held along the Milwaukee waterfront.  Think 11 days….11 stages and over 800 concerts!!   It was supposed to start the next day, so there was a huge “music” display in the history center.


I’m a music lover, so I had to look at everything!  They even have their own soda for the event…and of course T-shirts too!
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And since we lived in Poland for a year, I had to include this.  It was an interesting read.9F8F9FA8-9A96-4BDF-B5B7-D0B3F3379B79And if you’re not looking, you might miss this sign that is just across the street from the History Center….just stuck on part of a fence.  You learn something new every day!599f78a7-e597-4cb9-ab4d-949b73d60c22.jpegAfter taking the “history break, we were hot on the trail (River Walk) again.  This time we were looking for “the Fonz”!IMG_7898.JPG The setting for the TV series Happy Days was Milwaukee, so it’s fitting to have this here.  I I was trying to give my best “heeeeeyyy” impression!   Don’t stay too long there because there is lots more to see.  There is also a series of duck sculptures along the Riverwalk to honor Gertie the Duck  and her six baby ducklings.  There is even a book written about her!


Gertie’s sculpture is on the Wisconsin Avenue bridge.  But my favorite one is called “Gertie’s Gets Her Ducks in a Row”, a whimsical take on a “duck crew”.IMG_7906
Gertie’s crew looks like they need to join this crew team in practicing their rowing technique!  How about that neat fish sculpture on the building?  It’s on the side of the Empire Building and is called “Dream with the Fishes”.  At night it is lit with neon lights that fade in and out to make it look like the fish are swimming.The Riverwalk is 1.8 miles long and is along both sides of the Milwaukee River.  We had walked about a mile to reach one end and had walked more than half way back when we reached Wells Street which is where the MKE Boat Line is located.  They offer boat tours that go up and down the river, and out into Lake Michigan while they tell you the history of Milwaukee and fun facts about the city.  We just happened to arrive there at 12:00 noon, just in time to get onboard for a 90 minute sightseeing tour.
There are 16 bridges that span across the Milwaukee River.  Some are tall enough for the river traffic, but others must open….like the most common type called bascule bridges (drawbridges) that rely on weights to raise and lower them.180C8F40-98FA-4681-B9F7-9B65ACC636F0 Some are Vertical lift bridges…which I like to think of as “elevator bridges”, the entire bridge rises up like an elevator.  I think I’m becoming a “bridge nerd” like my husband who has a civil engineering degree. I counted and I took 26 pictures of bridges.  Here are a few more. Be grateful, you are only seeing a few pictures.


The boat tour takes you along the river, but also out onto Lake Michigan for a great view of the downtown skyline.  The tour guide on the boat gave a great history of the buildings we passed, and a lot of fun facts…you know, information that might come in handy if you are ever a contestant on Jeopardy.

Answer: the 353 foot tall bell tower of City Hall Building in Milwaukee.
Question: What was the third tallest structure in the United States in 1895?

Enough Trivia…. so here are the obligatory pictures of the lighthouse that guards the entrance. 0CE59750-F743-4A28-88DF-276920D9E4DF And of course you get great views of the Milwaukee skyline too.
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Our next stop after the boat tour was the Milwaukee Public Market….the sign reminds me of Pike’s Market in Seattle.  Same concept, but on a much smaller scale and no fish being thrown through the air. BBF9B434-25E9-4FB1-9EAF-EC92A146AA61 Lots of delicious food, novelty gift items, candy.  I think this spoon was made for David…but he obviously was only humoring me when I took the picture.  Did you know they make gummy bears in the shape of jet fighters?  And then there is the all important souvenir T-shirt.  But this one is special because it has its own beer bottle opener right in the shirt!

 


Moving right along we started back to out AirBnB, with a stroll along the water.  And I say stroll because we were tired and walking slow.  One of the grand pieces along the waterfront is the MAM (Milwaukee Art Museum).  From the side (and from our “cruise” it looks like a boat, but a closer view you can see the “wings” that extend out like a flying bird.  Those “wings” fold up….if they are out, like in the pictures, then the museum is open, If they are folded up, the museum is closed.


The huge park area is called Veteran’s Park.  There is a museum here, but also this outdoor sculpture dedicated to Vietnam Veterans. 4E00315A-635A-40FF-8AB7-50A934D8BCC9 The three main columns represent those who were killed in action, those who returned, and those who remain MIA/POW.  The five benches represent the five military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.  The eleven posts (which are not in the picture) that signify the number of years of the Vietnam War.
And also this statue of General Douglas MacArthur.1CC668A1-5F08-400E-BD58-98C03102C767
We were almost back to our AirBnB….Iestimated we walked about 6-7 miles today.  But at the base of the stairs back up there was this:4B50B1E5-6101-4E19-9648-B6548B078466
There were no signs, so I have no clue what it is or what it stands for.  Maybe Milwaukee’s version of Stonehenge??  (Did you notice the marina way in the background?  And I’m going to leave you with this view from when we were half way up the hill.  (You can barely see the little “Stonehenge” through the trees on the other side of the street.DFEADBCC-19E6-4337-97E7-608C0D0D7DD5

 

It’s D-Day…..and I’m Not Talking Doughnuts

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When my girls were little and in Kindergarten, D-Day was a very special day.  They learned their letters and sounds with a curriculum that included “Letter People” and “D” Day was when they learned about Mr. D and his Delicious Doughnuts.  It was also the day the only male teacher at the school, Mr. Davenport (aka Mr. D.) would bring them boxes of delicious Dunkin’ Donuts.  The kids loved it.

But this post is about another D-Day, June 6, 1944.  Today is the 73rd Anniversary of D-Day.  There is a National D-Day Memorial and it’s not located in a tourist “hot spot” like Washington, D.C, where there are a lot of other military memorials.  The National D-Day Memorial is located right off Route 460 in Bedford, Virginia.  My husband and I stopped there on a trip back from a football game way back last October and I’ve been waiting to share this with you until the real D-Day, June 6th. Continue reading

Lights in the Desert

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No trip to Arizona is complete without visiting the desert…well, Phoenix IS actually in the Sonoran Desert and it especially feels like a desert if you are visiting in August and go to the zoo when it’s 117 degrees. Yes, I did that once. But this time I chose a better time to go….in February, warm during the day, cool at night.  Perfect for a stroll around the Desert Botanical Gardens and even better because there was a special night exhibit “Sonoran Lights by Bruce Munro“.  Bruce Munro is a British artist who is known for large scale light based installations.  How large?  Well….31,000 individual lights and hundreds of miles of fiber optic cables large.  This display took 3 years to plan and 5 weeks to install.  And let me tell you, it was worth a visit! Continue reading

A Man’s Home is His Castle….Mystery Castle that is.

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There is a an old saying….”a man’s home is his castle”…meaning it’s a place of refuge, a place where he can do anything he wants.  And that is what Boyce Luther Gulley did.  Over a 15 year period from 1930 until his death in 1945, he built a “castle”….adding to it piece by piece with whatever he could find…old bottles, tiles, railroad tracks, telephone poles, pieces of adobe, automobile parts and too many more items to mention…and all was cemented together with a mortar & cement made with among other things, goat’s milk. 

Situated on eight acres of land on South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona lies this “Mystery Castle”.  Continue reading

Starting Again…Let’s Visit in My Mother’s Back Yard

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So here it is March already and I have broken my New Year’s resolutions many times over.  I didn’t actually write it down….but it was in my head.  My resolution?  Write on my blog more consistently….have a plan….like once a week.  Well, well that didn’t materialize, so I changed it again in my head.  In February it was “write one post a month.”  Surely I could manage to get out 12 posts in a year.  Evidently not.  Maybe  if I had actually written it down, gotten it out of my brain and onto a piece of paper, I might have had a better chance.  But life is all about second chances and “do-overs”, so I’m trying again.

Back in November I challenged anyone who might have read my blog to go and Look in Your Own Backyard. I’m sure if anyone did that, but you really should do this sooner rather than later and not be like my mother.  Last year, I went to visit my mother who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.  She moved there in 1976.  40 years ago….well, now 41 years ago.  It took her 37 years before she visited the Grand Canyon….which is only a mere 3 hour drive away.  So while I was there, I thought we should visit some of the other fun sights that are in her own backyard.  We made a “bucket list” of places my mother has never seen….so in two weeks time we tackled a mansion, a castle, three National Park Monuments and one historic village, plus we checked out a special light show at the Desert Botanical Gardens and spent an afternoon watching the National Hoop Dancing Competition.  Whew!  My mother was born and raised in Chicago, so one of our first ventures in backyard exploring was to visit the The Wrigley Mansion. Continue reading

New Year…..New Beginning…..I am not ready.

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On New Year’s Eve 2015, my husband and I loaded up our 7 suitcases and checked in at the airport in Warsaw, Poland to begin our trip back to the United States. img_8589 2016 was a new beginning….back in our own house, with a new job for my husband, a possible new job for me and a boatload of memories, travel and friendships to look back on and blog about.  (Read about that here This Is A Test)

Reflecting back on 2016, I can say that right now it seems like it flew by…..but in reality, there were times when it just dragged on and on and on.  Continue reading

Look in Your Own Backyard

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Last Month Way back in the beginning of August, I went to my high school reunion.  My 40th High School Reunion.  Yep, that makes me officially old.  It was great to be able to see my former classmates and catch up on what they have been doing. IMG_0571 It was also a great time to visit where I once lived….Blacksburg, Virginia.  Those of you that know me are probably laughing right now.  “But you go there all the time.  In fact I think your car could drive there by itself.”  Probably true…but we go to see the Virginia Tech football games….not necessarily to actually VISIT the town. Continue reading

Fluffy-Butt

I am at a stage in my life when my two beautiful daughters are grown and on their own and my husband and I are enjoying the empty-nest syndrome….an empty nest that has over the past 9 years been intermittently disrupted by this little cutie.Lane - May 2012Yes, while most couples our age are obsessing over their grandchildren and babysitting those same grandchildren, David and I have had the pleasure over the years of watching this little fluffy-butt while our youngest daughter was traveling for work or on vacation or living overseas.  A few months ago, she went back to Korea to live with her “Mom” and we have an empty nest again.  But every blog needs a little cuteness now and then, so let me officially introduce to you, Lane Continue reading

Its Been A Wild Ride!

A year ago, I decided to start a blog to document our move to Bydgoszcz, Poland.  That move evolved into a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, highs and lows and crazy turns and loops.  What my husband and I thought was going to happen, didn’t.   What we thought might be a five year adventure living overseas was cut short….way short.  So we just decided to enjoy the ride while it lasted and cram in as much traveling and sight-seeing as we could.

So what has happened in my life in the last twelve months?  I have 8,249 memories. (read to the end to find out the significance of that number)  But here is a quick recap. Continue reading

My final Seoul Sightseeing “Trip”

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With only a few days left of my trip to Seoul, I decided to do one last thing…take a self-tour using the Seoul City Tour bus, which is a “hop on-hop off” bus.  For one price (12,000 won or about $12.00) you can ride this bus all day and hop on at any of the pre-determined stops and also hop off at any of those stops to see attractions or sights.IMG_2607I thought it would be the perfect way to get to some of the places I still wanted to visit, but were too far to walk. Sounds easy right?  Wrong. Continue reading